Ten Rea­sons Why We Should Use Linux

There are many rea­sons why Linux is pre­ferred over pro­pri­etary soft­ware. This ar­ti­cle lists the top ten.

OpenSource For You - - Con­tents - By: S. Sathya­narayanan The au­thor works as the in­for­ma­tion sci­en­tist in the Sri Sathya Sai In­sti­tute of Higher Learn­ing, Brin­da­van Cam­pus, Ben­galuru, and also heads the com­puter cen­tre of the cam­pus. He has more than 25 years of experience in sys­tems admi

Un­til a few years ago, Linux was used mainly for servers and was not con­sid­ered suit­able for desk­tops. But its user in­ter­face and ease of use has been steadily im­prov­ing over the last few years. Linux has to­day be­come user-friendly enough to re­place Win­dows on desk­tops. It is be­ing used by hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple across the globe. Here are the ten most im­por­tant rea­sons why Linux ought to be adopted by home users, ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tutes and busi­nesses.

1. High se­cu­rity:

In­stalling and us­ing Linux on your sys­tem is the eas­i­est way to avoid viruses and mal­ware. The se­cu­rity as­pect was kept in mind when de­vel­op­ing Linux and it is much less vul­ner­a­ble to viruses com­pared to Win­dows. Pro­grams can­not make changes to the sys­tem set­tings and con­fig­u­ra­tion un­less the user is logged in as the root (equiv­a­lent to the ad­min­is­tra­tor user in Win­dows) user. Most users do not log in as the root; hence, they can­not do much dam­age to the sys­tem, ex­cept to their own files and pro­grams, since the down­loaded file/mal­ware will have limited priv­i­leges. You can browse the In­ter­net with­out wor­ry­ing about your sys­tem get­ting in­fected. How­ever, users can in­stall ClamAV an­tivirus soft­ware in Linux to fur­ther se­cure their sys­tems.

The reason for this higher level of se­cu­rity is that since Linux is open source soft­ware, the source code is avail­able for re­view. A huge num­ber of de­vel­op­ers all over the world have gone through the code, which means that most of the flaws have al­ready been dis­cov­ered.

2. High sta­bil­ity:

The Linux sys­tem is very sta­ble and is not prone to crashes. The lat­ter usu­ally has to be re­in­stalled around once a year or so to keep it in good con­di­tion. Once in­stalled, the Linux OS need not be re­in­stalled for years. The Linux OS runs ex­actly as fast as it did when first in­stalled, even af­ter sev­eral years. Most of us must have ex­pe­ri­enced how a freshly in­stalled Win­dows sys­tem runs ex­tremely fast and the same sys­tem be­comes slow af­ter around six months to one year. The same sys­tem be­comes very slow and, grad­u­ally, be­gins to run like a snail within six months to one year. Then, your only op­tion most of the time is to re­in­stall the OS and all the other soft­ware.

The up­time for the Linux servers is very high and the availability is around 99.9 per cent. Un­like Win­dows, you need not re­boot a Linux server af­ter ev­ery up­date or patch. Due to this, Linux has the high­est num­ber of servers run­ning on the In­ter­net. Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle on the zd­net web­site, 96.3 per cent of the top 1 mil­lion Web servers are run­ning on Linux. Twenty-three out of the Top twenty five web­sites run on Linux. The two re­main­ing web­sites in the top twenty five are live.com and bing.com, which be­long to Mi­crosoft!

3. Ease of main­te­nance:

Main­tain­ing the Linux OS is easy, as the user can cen­trally up­date the OS and all soft­ware in­stalled very eas­ily. All the vari­ants of Linux have their own cen­tral soft­ware repos­i­tory, which is used to up­date the sys­tem and keep it safe. They of­fer reg­u­lar updates and the sys­tem can be up­dated with­out re­boot­ing it. The up­dat­ing can be done pe­ri­od­i­cally, with just a few clicks, or users can even au­to­mate the up­dat­ing process. Up­dat­ing a Win­dows sys­tem is not so easy com­pared to a Linxu sys­tem. Also, in Win­dows, all the third party soft­ware like Acro­bat Reader, Fire­fox, etc, have to be up­dated in­di­vid­u­ally.

4. Runs on any hard­ware:

All of us know that with ev­ery new re­lease of Win­dows OS, a huge num­ber of hard­ware sys­tems be­come ob­so­lete as their tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions are no longer ad­e­quate to run the lat­est Win­dows OS. Linux makes very ef­fi­cient use of the sys­tem’s re­sources. Linux in­stal­la­tion can be cus­tomised for users and for spe­cific hard­ware re­quire­ments. The in­stal­la­tion pro­ce­dure is very flex­i­ble, and al­lows users to choose the mod­ules they want to in­stall. This al­lows them to in­stall Linux even on old hard­ware, thus help­ing in op­ti­mal use of all the hard­ware re­sources.

Linux runs on a range of hard­ware, right from su­per­com­put­ers to watches. You can give new life to your old and slow Win­dows sys­tem by in­stalling a light­weight Linux sys­tem, or even run a NAS or me­dia streamer us­ing a par­tic­u­lar dis­tri­bu­tion of Linux. There are also light­weight desk­tops like Xfce and LXDE which can run on lower-end PCs.

5. Free:

Linux is com­pletely free and users do not need to pay for any­thing. All the ba­sic soft­ware re­quired by a typ­i­cal user and even an ad­vanced user are avail­able. Dozens of ed­u­ca­tional soft­ware are avail­able un­der Linux. Even the equiv­a­lent of pro­fes­sional soft­ware for desk­top pub­lish­ing, photo edit­ing, au­dio edit­ing and video edit­ing are avail­able. Busi­nesses can use the soft­ware free of cost and re­duce their IT bud­gets sub­stan­tially.

6. Open source:

The most im­por­tant as­pect of Linux is that its source code is avail­able as it falls un­der the FOSS cat­e­gory (Free and Open Source Soft­ware). The devel­oper com­mu­nity ben­e­fits from this as its mem­bers have the free­dom to view and mod­ify the source code, which is not the case with pro­pri­etary soft­ware, which they can only use. Sev­eral coun­tries are de­vel­op­ing their own ver­sions of Linux. This will ul­ti­mately help these coun­tries in de­vel­op­ing their own OSs for spe­cialised or strate­gic ar­eas like de­fence, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, etc, to be­gin with. Cy­ber war­fare will play an im­por­tant role in any war in the fu­ture. Us­age of for­eign and com­pro­mised com­puter op­er­at­ing sys­tems and com­mu­ni­ca­tion soft­ware can bring the coun­try to its knees within a few days, both mil­i­tar­ily and eco­nom­i­cally. Hence, us­ing FOSS tools is crit­i­cal for the se­cu­rity of any coun­try. Sev­eral coun­tries in­clud­ing China, Rus­sia and Cuba are de­vel­op­ing their own OSs based on Linux. C-DAC has de­vel­oped BOSS (Bharat Op­er­at­ing Sys­tem So­lu­tions), In­dia’s own PC op­er­at­ing sys­tem.

7. Ease of use:

Con­trary to the gen­eral be­lief that Linux is only for geeks, it has now be­come user-friendly and has a good graph­i­cal user in­ter­face (GUI). It has al­most all the func­tion­al­ity that Win­dows has. The GUI has de­vel­oped to the ex­tent that most of what typ­i­cal users want can be done on Linux, as eas­ily as it is done in Win­dows, with­out knowing any com­mands.

In case you are us­ing some ap­pli­ca­tions which run only on Win­dows, you can in­stall Wine (Win­dows Emu­la­tor), us­ing which you can run those ap­pli­ca­tions on a Linux sys­tem.

Though the per­cep­tion is that Linux is not gamer friendly, sev­eral games are now avail­able on Linux. Even if a par­tic­u­lar game is not avail­able on Linux, you can in­stall PlayOnLinux to run Win­dows games.

8. Cus­tomi­sa­tion:

Users have tremen­dous flex­i­bil­ity in cus­tomis­ing the sys­tem as per their re­quire­ments. There are nu­mer­ous choices for wall­pa­pers, desk­top icons and pan­els. There are more than half-a-dozen desk­top en­vi­ron­ments to choose from, like GNOME, KDE, etc. For any task, right from the GUI in­ter­face and file man­agers, to DVD burn­ers and browsers, around four to six op­tions are avail­able for any par­tic­u­lar soft­ware. The Linux ver­sions of most pop­u­lar browsers are avail­able.The Linux phi­los­o­phy is based on us­ing sev­eral small pro­grams, each of which does one task very well. But these pro­grams can be com­bined to write re­ally pow­er­ful pro­grams and util­i­ties. The Linux OS of­fers a com­mand line in­ter­face with sev­eral shells to choose from. Sys­tems ad­min­is­tra­tors can en­joy the pow­er­ful com­mand line in­ter­face and write shell scripts to au­to­mate rou­tine main­te­nance and var­i­ous other tasks.

9. Ed­u­ca­tion:

This is the most use­ful as­pect for stu­dents, as they can use the soft­ware to study how it works, be­fore mod­i­fy­ing and ex­tend­ing the code to suit their needs. This will also help them to learn the in­ter­nals of an OS and the soft­ware. This process will help in the devel­op­ment of new soft­ware and aid in­no­va­tion based on lo­cal needs. Even if users are not pro­gram­mers, they can con­trib­ute to Linux by help­ing in doc­u­men­ta­tion, trans­la­tion and test­ing.

Linux can be a fan­tas­tic ed­u­ca­tional tool for schools and col­leges as free soft­ware is avail­able to aid in teach­ing. Pro­pri­etary soft­ware for com­pu­ta­tion, like MAT­LAB, is very ex­pen­sive. There are al­ter­na­tives avail­able to it like Scilab and GNU Oc­tave. Linux soft­ware is avail­able in many ar­eas— Ce­les­tia and Stel­lar­ium for as­tron­omy, Avo­gadro and Gabe­dit for chem­istry, EM­BOSS and TreeView X for bi­ol­ogy; and ROOT, Oc­to­pus and Step for physics. You can ac­cess the link https://lin­uxmint.tum­blr.com/post/27284846595/92-of-the-best­-free­-sci­en­tific­-soft­ware-­for-­linux to get a com­pre­hen­sive list of sci­en­tific soft­ware for Linux.

10. Sup­port:

There is strong com­mu­nity sup­port for Linux over the In­ter­net through var­i­ous fo­rums. Any ques­tion posed in fo­rums will usu­ally get a quick re­sponse as a lot of vol­un­teers are on­line and work­ing to solve the prob­lems due to their pas­sion for Linux. The paid sup­port op­tion is also avail­able for com­mer­cial en­ter­prises, with com­pa­nies like Red Hat and Novell of­fer­ing 24x7 sup­port for crit­i­cal ap­pli­ca­tions and ser­vices.

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